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Vanarama National League match
played on Saturday, 6 August 2022 at 3pm


Despite playing against ten men for an hour Altrincham had to settle for a point against newly promoted Maidstone United. The visitors started well but were gifted a fourth-minute lead when a freekick from the right was diverted into his own net by Brockbank.

The home side were second-best for much of the opening twenty-five minutes but rallied to dominate the remaining period to half-time with new loanee Bennett impressing. They got their reward in the first added minute of the half when Colclough retrieved an errant shot at the left byline and fed Conn-Clake who scored from close range.

Altrincham struck the underside of the bar through Colclough and then an upright through Mullarkey in a two-minute spell early in the second half.

Mr Corlett reduced the visitors to ten men when he issued a second yellow followed by a red to Ghandour for a foul on Bennett on the edge of the box (62 mins).

Altrincham were unable to convert their numerical advantage into a winning goal but were denied what seemed a clear penalty by the referee when Colclough was upended in the box. Indeed Mr Corlett made more than one questionable decision in this match.


REFEREE: Mr Matt Corlett

ATTENDANCE: 1,717 (199 in away end)


Altrincham were without long-term injured duo, Matty Kosylo and Isaac Marriott, and fielded a starting eleven featuring seven players who were either making their club debuts (Brockbank, Baines, Bennett) or their second or third debuts after rejoining the club (Jones, Lundstram, Conn-Clarke, Hulme).

There would have been eight "debuts" but, before kick-off, Altrincham had to change their plans as international clearance for new keeper Ollie Byrne had failed to arrive and so Matt Gould started in goal.

Toby Mullarkey was deployed at right-back rather than in his customary central position.


ALTRINCHAM (Red and white striped shirts, black shorts, red socks): 21. Matt Gould, 5. Toby Mullarkey, 26. James Jones, 6. Lewis Baines, 3. Liam Brockbank, 10. Elliot Osborne, 8. Josh Lundstram, 27. Aaron Bennett, 16. Chris Conn-Clarke, 11. Ryan Colclough, 9. Jordan Hulme (c). Subs: 12. Amaar Hussain, 23. Jake Cooper, 18. Ben Pringle, 28. Alex Sami, 30. Marcus Dinanga.

MAIDSTONE UNITED (Pale blue and white striped shirts, white shorts and pale blue socks): 30. Yusuf Mersin, 2. Gavin Hoyte, 3. Liam Vincent, 5. George Fowler, 8. Sam Corne, 10. Jack Barham, 14. Dominic Odusanya, 15. Regan Booty, 19. Hady Ghandour, 21. Roarie Deacon, 34. Jack Cawley. Subs: 1. Tom Hadler, 4.Joe Ellul, 7. James Alabi, 17. Christie Pattisson, 23. Henry Woods.


Altrincham were starting their first game as a full-time club and their third season back in the top flight of non-League football. Meanwhile Maidstone were playing their first game at Moss Lane for 34 seasons, a period in which they had spent three seasons in the Football League, then gone bust before reforming to climb the leagues. They had enjoyed three seasons back at this level from 2016 but that spell had coincided with Altrincham being at a lower level so the sides had not met since 1988/89 season.

The game was preceded by a minute's applause for recently deceased former Altrincham Club Secretary Derek Wilshaw, and two respected supporters of the club, John Rooke and Phil Bell, who had also died recently.


Maidstone kicked off towards the Golf Road end and they started the better side. Following a foul by Colclough, whose annoyance led to an early talk from Mr Corlett, Booty took the freekick, a left-footed inswinger, from wide on the right wing. As the ball entered the goalmouth Brockbank hung out a foot but only succeeded in diverting the ball into the far corner of the net to give Maidstone the lead and concede an own goal in just the fourth minute.

For Altrincham, Preston loanee Bennett was soon impressing on the right wing, whilst Deacon was doing likewise up the Maidstone right side.

Maidstone now carved Alty open when Booty fed Barham. As Gould came out to met the Maidstone man, he made an excellent save, diverting the ball firmly onto his right-hand upright (12 mins). When Barham was fouled, soon afterwards, Jones became the first player to be booked, for tugging back his opponent (18 mins). Referee Corlett's decisions were beginning to annoy the home side, though he was correct on this occasion, but they had to accept that the hosts had not been playing at all well so far in the game.

A misheader by Vincent did, however, give Altrincham their first corner but this was badly taken by Conn-Clarke and sailed out of play (23 mins). At this stage Colcough had not got very much involved and the visiting keeper had been untroubled.

Next, Mullarkey got forward to win a corner. But, following it, when Osborne and Bennett combined to set up Colclough, his right-footed sidefooted effort was poorly struck and curled well wide from 18 yards. Next the same wingman hit a wild cross as Alty continued to misfire (28 mins).

At the other end, Gould fielded a 25-yarder before a foul on Colclough earned Ghandour a booking (34 mins). From Bennett's freekick, Colclough went for a near-post header but a corner was awarded, which Bennett overhit.

However, Alty went on to dominate the last ten minutes of the forty-five. Firstly, a 25 yarder from Colcough, who had been fed by Bennett, forced a smart save from Mersin and then a low cross by Bennett had to be cleared (39 mins).

More Alty pressure soon gained them a corner (40 mins) before good combination play between Mullarkey, Hulme and Brockbank saw the last named's shot from 20 yards again well beaten out by Mersin (41 mins).

Another good Alty move ended with a smart volley by the now much more lively Colclough, which the keeper again had to tip away, his third good save inside a few minutes (43 mins).

Two Alty corners sustained the pressure as the hosts finished the half impressively. Three added minutes were proclaimed and, in the first of these, Alty's pressure earned them a deserved equaliser. A cross-shot from the right by Bennett was sailing well wide of the back post when Colclough did well to retrieve it on the byline. He played the ball back inside to Conn-Clarke, who scored smartly from fairly close range to make it 1-1 (45+1 mins).


After the break Maidstone replaced Vincent by Pattisson.

After Alty had kicked off they were soon at sixes and sevens at the back as Barham found himself with a clear view of goal but he shot straight at keeper Gould (46 mins). It then took a fine tackle by Jones to see off another Maidstone probe.

But a fine, raking pass by Bennett now found Colcough on the left and he advanced and cut in before firing superb shot which beat the keeper but bounced out off the underside of the crossbar and back into play (49 mins). And just a minute or so later, Alty hit the woodwork again as Bennett and Hulme combined to allow Mullarkey a shot which hit the inside of the keeper's right upright (50 mins).

Jones then needed treatment and had to be subbed by Cooper (52 mins).

Colclough soon went down cheaply but the referee was not taken in (55 mins). However, when Hulme fed Bennett and he was dragged back as he approached the box, the offender, Ghandour was shown a second yellow and trudged off after the resulting red card was flourished (61 mins). The freekick for the offence led to a corner and a second one followed, but to no real effect.

At the midway point of the half Mullarkey got up the right and his low cross just evaded the incoming Hulme. Now Maidstone brought on the experienced James Alabi for Barham (68 mins). Mr Corlett next booked Deacon for timewasting at a throw-in (71 mins) before Jordan Hulme won another corner, which was seen off.

Next Woods replaced Odusanya (75 mins) before Alabi proved too powerful for Baines, whose protracted holding of his opponent's shirt earned him an indefensible yellow card (77 mins).

This was just after Pringle had replaced Brockbank (79 mins).

There was great controversy nine minutes from the end of normal time as Colclough appeared to be clearly fouled in the back, deep inside the box, but the referee did not award a spot-kick. However, Conn-Clarke won a corner before which Mr Corlett came to see his fourth official who had reported Neil Sorvel to him and the Alty assistant manager was shown a yellow card.

After Colclough had been fouled, the Alty man earned a lecture for verbals, but time drifted on and the ten men kept themselves level.

Dinanga was introduced very late on (88 mins) in place of Hulme but, after five added minutes had been announced, Dinanga did have the ball in the net, from a Colclough cross from the right, only for the the effort to be ruled out, questionably, for offside (90+3 mins).

So Altrincham had failed to overcome a Maidstone side which had played with ten men for half an hour or more. After their poor opening half-hour Altrincham had improved but could not be too disgruntled at sharing the points with the well organised Kent visitors.